A message from owner Art Oestrike
In 2005, I set out to start an amazing company that would positively affect my town, community, and region. I named this company after my mother’s passing in 2006 in order to honor her, remember her, and cherish her memory for my family, friends, employees, and acquaintances. Jackie O’s has grown tremendously over the course of the past 15+ years and so have I as a person. The fast-paced growth has had its ups and downs. I have also made a number of mistakes along the way that I am not proud of. I have always thought of myself as someone who has protected others and created a welcoming safe place to hang out, learn, work, and grow as a person.
Brienne Allan (Instagram @ratmagnet) started a conversation last week which allowed people to share their stories regarding harassment, discrimination, microaggressions, and toxic work cultures in the craft beer scene. As I read all of the conversations, I began to question what I have been doing these past 15 years. I have not been doing what I thought I was doing. The stories made me question actions that I allowed to continue for longer than they should have. We terminated people for overt acts of sexual discrimination and harassment, but I allowed a toxic work culture to continue through periods of rapid growth because I was not ready to tackle issues head-on. I am sorry for these things. I am not honoring my mom by letting these things continue.
A leader in the company ignorantly acted misogynistically and inappropriately. I failed to recognize these actions made by a friend and colleague that, today, seem so abundantly clear. I lost sight of our core values and am learning from these mistakes. I now see that fast-paced growth and unchecked leadership without due diligence creates a breeding ground for toxicity within the workplace. I sincerely apologize for allowing any member of the Jackie O’s team to behave in a way that made anyone feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I am horrified by not knowing who else has been negatively affected while working at Jackie O’s.
The stories I read this week are heart-wrenching and disgusting. I stand in solidarity with Brienne Allan and the courageous people who shared their stories. My dad always said to “learn from your mistakes.” Here’s what we’ve done and what we plan on doing as we continue to grow our brand for years to come.
- This past year, we’ve created a Diversity & Inclusion Committee at the suggestion of our employees which includes 15 members of the Jackie O’s family. This committee created ten priorities, attended “Challenging Implicit Bias & Committing to Allyship” training, and updated the Jackie O’s’ Core Values.
- Six months ago, our Human Resources Director separated our Nondiscrimination /Anti-harassment Policy from our Employee Handbook in order to give it undivided attention during new hire orientations.
- This week, we are creating an anonymous employee survey to gauge feelings on the current culture of Jackie O’s and ask for suggestions for improvements. We’ll use those results to ensure our company culture aligns with our core values and plan to send out this survey semiannually.
- In addition to reminding employees of our complaint procedure protocol, we’re using an anonymous platform so our employees can report sexual harassment, discrimination, microaggressions, and toxicity in the workplace.
- While many of our employees have completed sexual harassment and bystander intervention training over the past three years, we joined WeVow to provide sexual harassment training, which will be mandatory for all employees to participate in within the next two months. Employees will not be permitted to travel without taking the course.
- Over the next several months we will examine the relationship between toxicity in the workplace and mental health/substance abuse so we can provide appropriate resources to our employees through an Employee Assistance Program.
- Lastly, we have donated to Brienne’s GoFundMe, which was set up to help her with any legal fees she incurs by sharing thousands of stories of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse across the craft beer industry. If you are able, we encourage you to donate as well at https://www.gofundme.com/f/
We strive to create a more inclusive and safe space for everyone. We encourage anyone to share experiences of misconduct by sending a message to [email protected]. As a brewery and as an industry, we can and must do better.
Jackie O’s Brewery